by Nicholas “The Bard” Andrea
“When did everybody start needing their own bottle of water?” exclaimed George Carlin, beginning one of his famous rants on how individualistic our society had become. Amidst an ocean of roaring laughter, he rattled off a litany of ways in which our country has become, some would say, overly focused on individual needs. As a youth and young adult, I struggled with this reality. Finding myself repulsed by how entitled people sometimes acted, I was disgusted by stories like the woman who sued McDonald’s for having coffee that was too hot after she spilled it on herself and won $640,000. Episodes like that made me not proud to be American.
Yet, I have since discovered that this is the age we live in. The need to develop freedom and respect for each unique person is upon us. The tribal, religious, and cultural creeds of yesterage are dissolving as more and more individuals awaken to the need to determine the courses of their own lives, and society is following suit by increasingly supporting that in its laws and customs.
After realizing that, I found myself more at home in this nation which, despite some of its absurdities, leads the world in this evolutionary process – the cultivation of individuality. We will do well for ourselves not to resist this trend but to be aware that it has both paths of light and shadow. On the bright side, we have the increasing awareness of minority/marginalized rights with movements such as marriage equality, “Black Lives Matter,” and recognition of First Nations’ peoples. In schools, we find that increasing attention is being paid to the individual needs of students and the recognition that not everybody has to achieve the same academic standard in order to become talented, creative, happy adults. All of this is exceedingly important. On the shadow side, we have the ideology of oligarchy which says that I can acquire as much money/property as I possibly can, nevermind the impact on others or the environment. We also have the bogus argument that freedom of speech means having the right to spew vile words of hatred and judgment against gays and blacks in the town square with a bullhorn (because, surely, that’s what Christ intended). These characterize the potential evils in the age of individual freedom, and that is part of the game at this time in our evolution. Dr. Michaela Glockler in her book, A Healing Education talked about how evil was necessary in our age because the only way we can become good, noble human beings is if the freedom to choose evil is also present. Evil is a necessary condition of freedom, and that is the gift of the force symbolically represented by Lucifer, the rebellious one. One could say that God permitted evil to enter humanity in order that we could develop the will to choose good, freely.